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Students, faculty mourn freshman's death

Nicholas C. Stern
Frederick News-Post

(9/3) Mount St. Mary's University paid its respects Thursday to one of the school's newest students after the 18-year-old freshman died during a volleyball match the day before.

Shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday, bells rang 18 times on the campus in honor of Catherine Carnes, who died Wednesday after collapsing sometime after 5 p.m. while playing volleyball with friends. She was pronounced dead at Gettysburg Hospital in Pennsylvania.

Addressing a hushed crowd of more than 100 students and faculty at an outdoor prayer service for Carnes and her family, university President Thomas H. Powell said the bells were rung 18 times to commemorate Carnes' young age.

In his message on the university's website, Powell asks the school to unite in prayer to support each other. "It is in times of unspeakable tragedy that we learn to use the language of Faith to sustain us," Powell wrote.

Carnes was from Monkton in northern Baltimore County and graduated from the McDonogh School near Baltimore, where she was a student for 13 years, said university communications director Linda Sherman.

Powell said about an hour before she collapsed, Carnes spoke with her mother about how she was anticipating an upcoming whitewater trip and how much she enjoyed being at school. She arrived there ahead of classes on Aug. 22.

The freshman biology major had already signed up for the equestrian team and the school's outdoor adventure club, Powell said.

In an admissions essay, Carnes wrote about her battle with diabetes, which she had been diagnosed with when she was 11, and about how living with the disease had taught her to stay strong and determined through the difficulties life presented, whether a big test, an athletic competition or the struggle to remain healthy, Powell said.

"'I need to keep fighting because I don't want to be the one to give up,'" Powell read aloud from Carnes' essay.

Powell said the university will plant a tree and erect a memorial plaque in her honor.

Ray Speciale, a freshman adviser who met Carnes, said she was a delightful and engaged student. "Anything that was going on, she wanted to be a part of," Speciale said.

Speciale said counselors and other advisers would be on hand for students should they need help or someone to talk to about the death.

Jastin Mostowtt, a 20-year-old junior who joined other students Thursday in mourning Carnes, said her death was a difficult start to a new school year.

"We're deeply mournful, and our prayers go out to the family," he said

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